When the Board of Fire Commissioners for Camano Island Fire and Rescue made its maintenance shop available to other districts for apparatus repair, they made it clear Camano Island rigs are top priority. That’s never been an issue, said Lead Emergency Vehicle Technician Jay Jacks. The department has successful contracts with four other area agencies to repair their emergency vehicles, including engines, tenders and medic units for Silvana, Arlington Rural, Darrington and Cedardale districts. But CIFR’s 35 pieces of apparatus, including boats and equipment at five stations, are well maintained. The shop’s bottom line is in the black, with a respectable $46,000 in annual income, and neighboring districts say it’s saving them money, too.
Rick Isler with Snohomish County District 21 said his “gut feel is that it’s saving us money.” Isler said there are not many options for this specialized kind of maintenance. There are a few mobile mechanics certified to do the work, while full-service shops are as far south as Monroe and as far north as Blaine. “There aren’t many fully certified emergency vehicle shops in the area,” said Jacks. He noted that the training includes many levels of certification above the automotive industry standard of ASE, for a total of 26 certifications. Jacks has been with the District for 18 years and works with Gabe Greaves, who is entering his fifth year of service for CIFR. Jacks is on call 24 hours a day, responding when rigs get caught up in muddy rural driveways, or are in need of immediate repair. He said the front-line equipment gets a thorough maintenance check-up four times a year. “We keep our equipment in the best possible shape,” he said. The newest rig on CIFR’s lots is a 2009 engine. The oldest piece of apparatus is 20 years old. “I believe it’san invaluable resource for Fire District 19,” said Silvana’s Chief, Keith Strotz. “I truly believe that this partnership is a win-win for Camano Island and District 19. They treat us fairly, and professionally. And that’s all I can ask.”